Treatment of Women in Homer's Odyssey

Treatment of Women in Homer's Odyssey

Length: 882 words (2.5 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Excellent

Open Document

Essay Preview

More ↓
The Treatment of Women in Homer's Odyssey

Judged by modern Western standards, the treatment of women by men in Homer's Odyssey can be characterized as sexist. Women in Homer's Odyssey are judged mainly by their looks. If important men and gods consider a woman beautiful, or if her son or husband is a hero or has an important position such as king, the woman is successful. The way women in The Odyssey are treated is based on appearance, the things men want from them, and whether the woman has any power over men. During Odysseus' journey to the underworld he sees many different types of women. We hear about their beauty, their important sons, or their affairs with gods. We hear nothing about these women's accomplishments in their lifetime. Odysseus tells how Antiope could "boast a god for a lover,"(193) as could Tyro and many other women. Epikaste was called "that prize"(195) her own son unwittingly married.

Some women are known for the deeds of their sons or husbands, but never for a heroic deed of their own, their personalities, and what they do themselves. It seems the only accomplishment women could achieve was being beautiful. Theseus "had no joy of"(195) the princess Ariadne because she died before this was possible. Homer makes it sound as if Ariadne's life was useless because she did not give Theseus pleasure. The only woman we hear of for a different reason is Klymene, and we only hear of her because she "betrayed her lord for gold."(195) This is the only time we hear of a woman for something she did, and once we do, it is a negative remark. Penelope, Odysseus' queen, is paid attention to only because of her position. Because she has a kingdom, she has suitors crowding around her day and night. Being a woman, Penelope has no control over what the suitors do and cannot get rid of them. The suitors want her wealth and her kingdom. They do not respect her enough to stop feeding on Odysseus' wealth; they feel she owes them something because she won't marry one of them. One of the suitors, Antinoos, tells Telemakhos "...but you should know the suitors are not to blame- it is your own incomparably cunning mother."(21) Even Telemakhos doesn't respect his mother as he should. When the song of a minstrel makes her sad and Penelope requests him to stop playing, Telemakhos interrupts and says to her, "Mother, why do you grudge our own dear minstrel joy of song, wherever his thought may lead.

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"Treatment of Women in Homer's Odyssey." 12 Dec 2019

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Analysis Of Homer 's Odyssey By Homer Essay

- Homer’s Odyssey effectively demonstrates the numerous societal roles played out in Greek culture with a stress on the expectations of the two sexes, particularly those of females. Two main factions of women, categorized according to their differing levels of prestige, are used to represent the different ancient Greek women. The lower level is the common mortal woman, separated into women of sovereignty like Penelope and the everyday women like the housemaids. The higher level is the immortal goddess— ranging from well-known Pallas Athena to nymphs and witches like Circe and Calypso....   [tags: Odyssey, Odysseus, Greek mythology, Homer]

Research Papers
1492 words (4.3 pages)

The Portrayal of Women in Homer's Odyssey Essay

- Does Homer exhibit gender bias in the Odyssey?  Is the nature of woman as depicted in the Odyssey in any way revealing. Upon examining the text of the Odyssey for differential treatment on men and women, it becomes necessary to distinguish between three possible conclusions.  One, differences in treatment reflect the underlying Homeric thesis that  women are "different but equal in nature,"  Two, different treatment  of men and women in the text reflect a thesis that women are "different and unequal in nature" -- arguments about misogyny fall in here but a host of other interpretive possibilities are possible too....   [tags: The Odyssey by Homer]

Research Papers
1828 words (5.2 pages)

Essay about Women During The Odyssey By Homer

- The women presented throughout The Odyssey provide a respectable representation of women in ancient Greece in general. There are several women introduced in The Odyssey, all of various backgrounds and social classes. The most notable women or type of women in this epic include goddesses, Penelope, and the housemaids and servants. Athena and Calypso are the most significant goddesses presented in The Odyssey. While Athena embodies both feminine and not so feminine traits, Calypso embodies the sexual nature of women and the thought and feelings of sexualized women....   [tags: Odyssey, Odysseus, Athena, Iliad]

Research Papers
730 words (2.1 pages)

The Art of Manipulation in Homer's Odyssey Essay

- The Art of Manipulation in Homer's Odyssey   They sit, entranced in the magic of his words. He pauses. On the edge of their seats, they await in silence his next utterance. The one spoken of is not a bard or man refined in the art of song, but rather a warrior scarred and hardened through intense conflict. He has a special mastery of the spoken language that enraptures his audience and a gift that endows him to command and persuade them without physical force. This man is a manipulator of words, a subtle combatant....   [tags: Homer Odyssey]

Research Papers
942 words (2.7 pages)

Essay on The Odyssey And The Color Purple

- In The Odyssey and The Color Purple, the authors show different period of time where women didn 't have the right to have an opinion nor a decision in their own lives. Second wave feminism was not only about the right to vote, etc. It was more of a fight about equal opportunities. Naturally, the differences between the people asking for equal opportunities would become a key point. In The Odyssey and The Color Purple, women’s rights are based on social structural rather than laws that allow women to make their own decisions....   [tags: Odyssey, Odysseus, Penelope, Telemachus]

Research Papers
1181 words (3.4 pages)

Essay on Analysis Of Homer 's ' The Iliad And The Odyssey '

- Homer and Caliban The development of the theories of art education by various theories has been influenced by the various artistic works, especially poetry. In the past few centuries, poetry has become an important element in the development of English literature and various theories on the art of education. Notably, these poetry and theories are developed by various philosophers who have contributed in the growth of the field of education and the teaching practice. Apart from contributing to the development of education and teaching practice, these works of poetry helps in understanding medieval societies and the modern society in light of the changes that have taken place....   [tags: Gender, Gender role, Homer, Sociology]

Research Papers
1488 words (4.3 pages)

Homer's The Odyssey Essay

- Since the beginning of human civilization, women have often occupied inferior roles in society while the dominant role has been played by men. In Homer’s The Odyssey gender roles in Greek society are emphasized showing how men controlled society while women were undervalued and constantly disrespected. Although it may be argued that Homer poses some rather feminist views, it is evident by several elements that The Odyssey is a misogynistic text. First, women in the Odyssey were continually oppressed by men never having true free will....   [tags: ancient Greek epic poems]

Research Papers
779 words (2.2 pages)

Essay on Loyalty as Defined in the Odyssey

- Loyalty, as defined in the Odyssey seems to be the constant devotion to someone, the hopefully longing of their return and victory. Homer seems to value loyalty over many of the other human traits, as Eumaeus gets not only Homer’s famous “you” but his own book as well. The swineherd is not the only character that Homer uses to show loyalty, Penelope and Telemachus show unyielding faithfulness to Odysseus throughout the epic poem; as do many other characters even gods. Homer demonstrates the value he places on loyalty through the use of these characters with their devotion to Odysseus....   [tags: Loyalty, Odyssey, ]

Research Papers
936 words (2.7 pages)

Essay on Homer's Women: Empowerment from an Unlikely Feminist

- Women have always been treated unfairly in society. Even in the modern era, women have just begun to receive their rights, many of which their male counterparts received long before. Women have their unique history and when looking back and learning of the histories behind people, including the background on women, the first place historians look are written works. Greek society is no different since much is known about it through Greek literature, such as the epics the Iliad and the Odyssey. However, Greece is known to have been no different from other societies of its time in regards to women....   [tags: modern era, greek, odyssey]

Research Papers
1962 words (5.6 pages)

Essay Homer

- In Homer’s epic, The Odyssey, women play an integral role in the life of Odysseus, the story’s protagonist. Odysseus is forced to leave the comforts of Ithaca because of a woman, Helen, and he longs to return to his home largely for a woman, his wife Penelope. Throughout his journey, however, it is Circe who has a heavy influence on Odysseus because she is a major distraction and thus an obstacle for the renowned hero. Indeed, Circe’s comeliness coupled with her sorcery, and her kindness along with lavish hospitality all distract Odysseus and impede him from swiftly returning home....   [tags: essays research papers]

Free Essays
809 words (2.3 pages)

Related Searches

" (12) If Telemakhos respected his mother he would have asked the minstrel to cease playing the song that made her upset.

Through Penelope, Homer shows how an ideal wife should feel toward her husband. Penelope remembers Odysseus as a great king and husband even though he has been gone for twenty years. Odysseus thinks of Penelope as his wife who, under all conditions, should be faithful to him no matter how many times he has been unfaithful or how long he has been gone, and Penelope fulfills this wish.

Athena seems to be the most admired female in the entire book. She is always spoken of respectfully and is remembered for her heroic deeds. She is not degraded like many of the other women Odysseus sees in the underworld. Everyone worships her and speaks about her achievements with great admiration; she is truly admired, but only because she is a goddess. Athena has control over men that most women in The Odyssey do not. Women's lives depend on what men think of them. On the other hand, men's lives depend on Athena's opinion of them. Athena is "Zeus' virgin daughter" and no one has used her in that way. She is too important to be used as being enjoyment for men; they depend on her for their own welfare.

Another woman that plays a big role in this epic is Calypso.  Calypso is a nymph, a child of Zeus, and lives on an island in the middle of the ocean.  One day a man named Odysseus is sent to her by the god of the sea, Poseidon, because Poseidon was mad because Odysseus had blinded his son, the Cyclops. It is on this island that another woman is used as a sexual toy and is not thought of for her own achievements, but rather for her beauty, and the fact that she is the daughter of Zeus.

Men in The Odyssey only value women who they can use for physical needs and wealth, such as the women in the underworld that Odysseys encounters, and Penelope. Homer shows us how men in The Odyssey consider women less important than men. We rarely hear of women throughout the book. When we do, we are shown that men did not consider women important and are careless with their relationships with women, as we see in Odysseus' relationship with Penelope.

While Odysseus expected Penelope to stay faithful even after he was gone for twenty years and was unfaithful to her many times, through his relationship with Calypso. But today women are able to have accomplishments other than those of Penelope and the other woman Odysseus encountered in the underworld; they have the same opportunities and are treated as equals by men.
Return to